In February 2015, Siqi Mou met with FACES Staff Yegina Whang and Alexandra Botez to share her past experiences at Morgan Stanley and Bloomberg. She also talked about her current academic and entrepreneurial pursuits.
“My ultimate dream, since everyone at Stanford dreams big, would be to have my own venture capital firm that sponsors women entrepreneurs.” -Siqi Mo
The Interviewee: Siqi Mou is currently pursuing a joint degree from Stanford Graduate School of Business and Harvard Kennedy School, focusing on monetary policy, capital markets, public/private partnership, social entrepreneurship, and impact investment. Previously, she has worked for Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Siqi became a member of FACES in 2011 during her undergraduate career at Stanford, where she received a B.A. in Economics.
The Interviewers: Yegina Whang and Alexandra Botez, both on the FACES Alumni Affairs team, are studying International Relations at Stanford.
Prologue: Siqi Mou's interests are not limited to her academic pursuits in finance and economics. In 2014, she worked as a news anchor for Bloomberg TV Indonesia, reporting on financial issues such as the IDX-Jakarta stock exchange and the effect of the United States' tapering policy on the Indonesian economy. Siqi is also an accomplished pianist. Having played for almost 20 years, she currently serves as a music ambassador for the Carnegie Hall in New York. In her free time, she is interested in fashion and women empowerment in the business and tech world. Given the wide range of accomplishments she achieved, we were inspired to chat with Siqi about her time in FACES and her journey after graduation. In this interview, Siqi sheds light on her experiences working for the biggest companies on the Wall Street, her thoughts on U.S.-China relations in the 21st century, and her hopes and aspirations for the future.
Meet Siqi Mou: Business School, Entrepreneurship, and Past Experiences
Alexandra: Siqi, it is great to meet you! Would you mind telling our listeners what sort of activities you are currently involved in?
Siqi: On the academic side, I am taking many classes about entrepreneurship, as well as a lot of required classes for business school. As for clubs, I’m in the Finance Investment Club which I'm planning to run a position for next year. I am also in the Retail Club because I'm very passionate about beauty and fashion. I am also in the Marketing Club , Women In Management Club and Arts Media Entertainment Club. But being involved in a club does not mean you have to do a lot of mentoring or leadership in your first year. I am planning to take on leadership positions in my second year. As for work, I am probably going to work for Pimco this summer, one of the biggest mutual funds in the world, and also doing a start up on the side.
A: What kind of startup are you working on?
S: We are working on customized beauty products. Our idea is to customize your skin care cream based on your personal needs and giving women the freedom to choose the ingredients they put in our moisturizers or face masks. We want to make something that is tailored to you, which you can name your own cream. We think all women aspire for effective products that are natural, not toxic, and hopefully affordable. Our aim is to provide these services and products for our users.
A: Thanks for sharing! Rewinding a bit, could you tell us about your experiences working at Morgan Stanley and how it differed from working at Bloomberg Indonesia?
S: I worked at Morgan Stanley for two years in sales and trading. I would constantly find myself talking to five people at a time, while reading something on Bloomberg, or on my phone, while my boss is talking to me. I was always multitasking, it was a nervous, anxious environment because the market is constantly moving. If you do not execute the trade in the right way and in a timely manner, the price moves. It is very nerve racking. When I worked at Bloomberg TV, I was a new anchor covering mainly financial news with a bit of policy-related topics. I was also doing a lot of interviews with corporates and social entrepreneurs. The time pressure was not as intense, but I still had to arrive every day at 3:30 in the morning, sit through two hours of hair and makeup, research the news I want, report it, talk about it, and send the scripts to the production team before my presentation. I feel like my experience at Morgan Stanley was able to kind of train me to be able to manage my time in a very efficient way. And so that's what I did in Bloomberg TV.
A: How did you adjust to living in a developing country?
S: This was my first time ever living in a developing country, I learned a lot about the future opportunities in Indonesia, which is the fourth most populous country. It has huge potential, especially because of the new president. It got me very interested in looking at development opportunities in a country that I had never even imagined living in before. I began thinking about Africa, or other Southeast Asian countries that could potentially replace China as the next superpower.
Siqi on Empowering Women in Business
Yegina: You seem to be very passionate about empowering women in business. Where did this passion come from?
S: Part of it is from my family. My mom went to college when she was 15, right after the cultural revolution. She was extremely smart and majored in mechanical engineering. That year, it was much more competitive to get into college because everyone was going back to school. My mom was one of the few women to get in. I have seen how much education can change people. In Asia, women are not paid enough attention for the potential they have. Similarly in the United States, a lot of high achieving women have to give up their ambitions for family and kids. I read an article a few days ago that only eight percent of all the VC-backed companies were co-owned by a woman--which is shocked me. My ultimate dream, since everyone at Stanford dreams big, would be to have my own venture capital firm that sponsors women entrepreneurs.
Y: Have you personally faced barriers in your entrepreneurial aspirations that you think other women can relate to?
S: I was not involved in entrepreneurship previously. I have always worked in big corporate companies. I worked in Morgan Stanley for two years before I started this joint degree for the Harvard Kennedy School and Stanford GSB. My working environment was extremely male dominated while I worked on the trading floor. I felt that in order to be taken seriously, I always had to do things the way men do it. Later I realized there were a lot of things that men and women differ on, having different qualities which were advantageous in different areas. For example, women tend to like listening more. When I would cover clients, I think they appreciated this quality. Going back to your question, I would say like there were definitely many obstacles I have faced in my job. But there are always ways to overcome these obstacles, I am a big believer that we, women, have our advantages in different areas than men, which is why I think that in areas like consumer products, beauty or fashion we should encourage, seek, and acknowledge more female entrepreneurs.
Siqi and her FACES Experience
Y: Can you tell us about your involvement with FACES?
S: I got involved because of the encouragement from one of my best friends in college, her name is Sindie Huan. She was the first to be involved in FACES, and she told me about it. The vision of FACES was in line with what I wanted to do; Sindie sold the organisation to me. She was the director of one our recruiting departments. I went to the first meeting, thought it was really cool, and that is how I joined. Of course, joining an organization is very different from staying in it. Being involved in the conference my sophomore year, as well as one in my junior year, convinced me. That is why I worked hard for FACES, and even after I graduate I will stay involved with a lot of the alumni through banquets or gatherings. I try to go to them while I am back in the area. Life can go full circle, now I am back at Stanford and I want to stay involved and be able to help out.